05 September 2018

Hugos 2018: A Skinful of Shadows by Frances Hardinge

Trade paperback, 415 pages
Published 2017

Acquired May 2018
Read July 2018
A Skinful of Shadows by Frances Hardinge

For my Hugo reading, I automatically purchase all the Best Novel finalists in hard copy, and then pick and choose in the other categories. (Anything I don't purchase myself, I can get from the voter packet and/or the library.) A Skinful of Shadows, finalist for Best Young Adult Book (Not a Hugo), was an automatic buy for me, based on how much I liked Hardinge's last novel, The Lie Tree, and I sat down to read it literally knowing nothing about it, not even reading the back cover.

I guess for this reason it's hard for me to want to tell you anything about it here. Like The Lie Tree, Skinful of Shadows is a dark historical fantasy novel, with a unique magical conceit at its heart, that Hardinge explores all the permutations of. The novel twists and turns a lot, in a good way; I think a lesser author would have extracted two hundred pages out of any one of the things that makes up this novel, but Hardinge keeps things going, with lots of revelations and upheavals of the kind that make you say something aloud. Beautifully written, neat ideas, intriguing plot, and sharp character work. At the time I write this, I have two more finalists for Best Young Adult Book to read, but if either of them surpass this, I'll be quite amazed. (And happy, I guess, to read so many quality novels.)

Addendum: One of them did! And it was indeed amazing.

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